Worcester State University Faculty Led Morocco Program – 2013 (Day 8)
It is Sunday, Day 8 of our travels. I am starting to get a little sad knowing that our trip is almost over and that we will be boarding a plane home soon. We are going to make the most of our last few days in Morocco!
—- *Blog Photographs are Courtesy of Christopher Lippmann, one of thirteen WSU Morocco 2013 Travelers | **Video Links are short ‘clips’ uploaded from the entire WSU Group to our WSU Flickr Account to enhance the blog experience. —-
Today we left our Ryad Mogador Hotel and we had a guide to take us around the city to teach us about Marrakesh and its history. Marrakesh is called “The Red City” because of the ochre color of the buildings. We learned that Marrakesh is the Capital of Berbers and the first inhabitants of Morocco lived here. This city is one of Four imperial cities: Rabat, Fes, Meknes, and Marrakesh. I find that it is amazing that we have been given the opportunity to see all of the imperial cities in the past few days on this journey. We also learned that Marrakesh has only 65 days of rain in a year — 300+ days of sun. This is my kind of place to live!
We did a lot of walking to see many different cites around the city. We learned that the holes in the walls of the city were for scaffolding to build it up. There are more than 10 gates in Marrakesh including the Bab J’deed “New Gate”. Someone in our group had a good question about the calls to prayer … “What if someone is deaf and they cannot hear the call?” Our guide told us that a white flag is raised on top of the towers as a visual sign that it is time for the call to prayer. This was so interesting.
We walked past the ruins of an ancient mosque. When we questioned why they tore the old mosque down, our guide replied that they build the new one right next to the old one because it was not “aligned properly with Mecca”. Mohamed and the guide told us a little bit more about the calls to prayer and that they follow the rising/setting of the sun, and that it is not at any exact period of time, it can vary.
- Gardens in Marrakesh.
We learned new Arabic today: “Yell-AH!” = “Let’s Go!”
Our group visited a cemetery where we saw servant tombs outside of the mosque. There are no names carved anywhere. The slabs are covered in beautiful yellow, turquoise, royal blue and white diamond tiles. Very near the servants tombs there was the Tomb of Three Arches where the women in the royal family where buried.
A short video clip of some architecture walking through the Bahia Palace. Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9693133729/
Next we visited the Melah, or Jewish Quarter. Within the Jewish Quarter was the Bahia Palace or “Palais Bahia” where there were beautiful central gardens. Bahia actually means ‘beautiful’. The Bahia Palace was built in 1984 when the grand vizier married four wives, and the most beautiful was named Bahia. Down a corridor we found the Harem Quarter where the vizier’s 24 concubines and 4 wives lived together. The architectural style is Spano-moorish gardens.
Inside of the bustling city we stopped at a shop called Rosa Huille. This was my favorite store. We were given a presentation of spices at this shop. We learned so much!! Ras el Hanout is ‘heat of shop’ which is a 35 spices blend for meats. Moroccan Curry and cumin, chili pepper, Saffron lipstick balm, orange blossom and jasmine oils… the list of items in this store is endless.
- Upon entering Rosa Huille shop, two woman sat grinding nuts to draw out their butter and oils.
A Video of this room and our presenter starts his informative demonstration of the items sold at Rosa Huille. Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696637870/
Black seed was one of my favorite things to purchase and bring home, it is great for the sinuses, asthma, snoring… there were different kinds of argan oil – some for cooking others for using in hair. Pat got a massage with some oils that Rosa Huille was selling. A few girls received a ‘clavicle’ massage.
AJ also ate a handful of cumin to help with his indigestion that he had been battling during the trip. This shop was incredible and we all spent quite a bit of time at the end of the presentation in the check out line.
AJ eats a handful of cumin to help his digestive system. Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696628482/
Afterward, we went to a few other shops that had incredible wares. Some of the shops were very pricey but it was interesting to see different and unique things. We also stopped at a rug shop but nobody bought anything. I wish we had saved up more money for a rug. Maybe next time!
Checking out the Rug Shop — Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696623346/
We went to lunch and had the option of eating American food. Our table ate traditional tajine dishes to keep with the culture while visiting. Let me tell you something, if you go with Worcester State University on this trip, fully immerse yourself into the trip! Even though Mohamed gave us the option of eating American food, why bother? You are only in Morocco for 10 days and will be in the U.S for the rest of your life. Be adventurous and get something out of the ordinary! Okay, I have said my piece. We kept asking our waiter for more bread!! Meg yelled for more bread – we were famished!
Everyone wanted to go back to the square after lunch to do some more shopping. AJ and everyone else became kings at bartering. There was one point when Joe came back and showed us all of the cool things he was able to get for next to nothing. We were pros!
We walked around the city some more and saw people dying different fabrics in handmade dyes. The fabric and strings were hanging from the walkways drying in the sun. It was very interesting to see where the materials were made from the start.
After our shopping excursion we went back to the hotel to have dinner. There was a local event for teenagers in the hotel so it was very crowded and loud. It was interesting to see how they were dressed. We were going to go to the hammam but we ran out of time. Mohamed has vowed to get us to one before we leave, he says it is something we cannot miss out on experiencing.
“Remember people, it’s 12 o’clock here. So let’s be as loud as possible.” – Pat
At night, we visited the Ali Baba show. We were not sure what to expect!
We sat and had nuts and sodas while Joe got up and danced with some singers that were going table to table under the tent. There were thick, brightly colored carpet coverings everywhere.
Dinner and singers walked around visiting the tables. Here is a video of us having a repast and listening to the cymbals and seeing the dancers. Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9693375415/
A video clip of the Actors performing on horseback during the Ali Baba show: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696578708/
A Video Clip of the Ali Baba Performers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696546750/
Outside, there was an oval arena where Moroccan performers raced up and down firing their guns acting out a story. There were trick riders and a belly dancer. We had the best seats in the house, right up front to see the action. There was a “magic carpet” up on cables that “floated” down and over the arena at the end of the show. The show was very stylized and did not help the typically “Moroccan stigma” of what some Americans think of the country, but it was fun and entertaining. I enjoyed myself and the music was awesome and the people were super friendly.
At the end of the show, we were thanked for coming with a flaming finale.
Bleary-eyed, we made our way back to our hotel. Another day — tomorrow!